Underworld and Other Worlds

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My husband Picasso and I met in a time before cellphones.

After dancing and talking at the Limelight on a Saturday night in New York City, Picasso invited me to a concert. It was the following Wednesday night and we both had work the next day.

But we were both of an age where that was not yet an issue.

I replaced my wedding ring with a silver ring in the shape of a snake before going out that night. Hours after the concert invite, Picasso ran his fingers over the the ring during a break from dancing. He asked me about its story.

This was during a time in my life when I lied a lot to myself and others to make it through the day.

I’ll never fully understand why I told Picasso the truth at that moment. But I looked him in the eye and said that I was married to another man. I added that I knew in my heart that I was done with the marriage and I’d be telling him that fact the next day.

Picasso figured that since he already invited me to the concert before he knew this key fact, he’d stick with the plan and then probably never see me again. The concert was his priority.

The day after Limelight,  I sat my first husband down in the late Sunday morning light at our kitchen table in Brooklyn, looked him in the eye and told him what I’d known for months in my heart – I was done with our marriage.

I’d cried and fought and questioned so much in the months prior. My head and heart were now clear and connected. As a symbol of the change, I got a new outfit for my Wednesday night concert date.

At the club, Picasso and I arranged to meet before the concert at a Barnes and Noble on the same block as Limelight, West 20th. Between the drinks and the Spanish and the pounding music that night, I got the time wrong.

I waited in the Barnes and Noble, nervously smoothing over my aqua blue shirt and brushing imaginary dust off of my black pants. I fiddled with my gauzy Fiorucci scarf that made sense as a fashion choice in the late 90’s.

After half an hour, I decided that I’d been stood up. I walked out of the Barnes and Noble, turned right and walked down West 20th. After a little bit, I realized that I was approaching the Limelight. Angry and sad, I didn’t want to walk past the club at that moment. I turned around and headed back towards the Barnes and Noble.

And there was Picasso in the entrance, calmly waiting, right on time.

When we were on line outside the Hammerstein Ballroom, Picasso sheepishly asked me my name again. He told me he’s terrible with names. I laughed, thinking that he must be kidding. He wasn’t. He’ll always hold a face in his mind, but never a name.

The concert? Underworld.

I’d never heard of the band before, knew nothing about their music. I hadn’t seen the movie Trainspotting. Still haven’t. (If you don’t know me personally, trust me when I say that my friends are often dumbstruck by the amount of classic movies across all genres that I haven’t seen.)

The music. Lord, the music. It was astounding. And the lights and the lyrics and the lasers. We shook our bodies, smooth-skinned 20-somethings, moving along with the flashing, pulsating light.

A chapter was closing in my life. Another world, another life flew in like rushing water.

Born Slippy came on. And when I heard those chords, those hopeful and contemplative chords breaking up that insistent beat, I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen with Picasso and I, but I knew that it was going to be big.

My friend The Cartoonist gave me the heads up a few months ago that Underworld was coming to the Fox Theater in Oakland, where Picasso and I live. I’ll be forever grateful to her.

Last night, almost 17 years to the day, we saw Underworld in concert again.

17 years after that first date.

I looked around and the theater was filled mainly with people in their 40s and 50s. And all of us went back to a time before kids and mortgages, before work commutes and 401k contributions. We remembered and smiled and sighed and shouted and shook our bodies like we were young again.

A time before cellphones.

Born Slippy came on. And when I heard those chords, those hopeful and contemplative chords breaking up that insistent beat, I choked up and hugged Picasso through my tears.

17 years flew in like rushing water. I held out my hand to my younger self, and we walked with Picasso into that flashing, pulsating light.

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4 thoughts on “Underworld and Other Worlds

  1. This is absolutely beautifully written and incredibly touched my soul. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this.

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